NDRRMC: Technical issues prompt wrong typhoon signal messages

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) clarified issues involving a wrong text message that circulated through short messaging system (SMS) which advised the wrong cyclone wind signal on the onslaught of Typhoon Ursula.

While several parts of Luzon and Visayas braced for the typhoon on Tuesday (December 24), residents in Metro Manila received an emergency alert message from NDRRMC saying that the Metropolis was placed under tropical cyclone wind signal #2.

But state weather agency PAGASA in its weather bulletin announced that Metro Manila was placed under Signal #1 throughout the day.

The said message prompted twice in Metro Manila residents’ mobile phones which caused confusion while the country was monitoring the situation especially in typhoon-affected areas.

According to NDRRMC, such wrongful message was a result of a technical issue in the distribution system of telecommunication companies.

“Dapat ang makatanggap lang po ay (Supposedly, the message was only for residents of) areas under signal number 2,” explained NDRRMC Spokesperson Mark Timbal.

“Dahil po doon sa technical issue na na-encounter na yun, pati areas na signal number 1 ay nakatanggap din ng messages, (But because of the technical issue that [the telcos encountered], even residents in areas under signal #1 received the message),” he added.

Timbal argued that possibly the typhoon affected the telcos’ signal towers which affected the transmission of the advisory to the cellphone users.

“Ang pinag babatayan kasi niyan iyong mga signal towers. Siguro hindi naging available ang mga signal towers doon sa particular area kaya ang nangyari ay nag alternative signal towers, (The transmission also depends on the signal towers. Perhaps, the signal towers for that particular area were not available that time so what happened was, the message searched for alternative signal towers),” Timbal said.

“Kaya ang signal towers na nakakasakop din sa Manila ay nakatanggap din ng message, (So even the signal towers intended for Manila also received the message),” he added.

Though it is true that the NDRRMC formulates the alert messages for specific locations, it is the telcos that transmit the messages to the intended receivers.

Under the law, the alert messages are sent free of charge and the transmission is the responsibility of the telcos.

The NDRRMC, nevertheless, assured that they are in close coordination with the telcos so as to prevent a repeat of such error in the future. – MNP (with inputs from Vincent Arboleda)

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